Top Ten Games of 2010 Part 1

Posted on December 6, 2010 by


Well, we’ve come to the end of another year, full of ups and downs, successes and failures. It’s time for Spell Checked*s annual Top Ten extravaganza! While for our first year we reviewed the top ten games, books and movies of the previous decade, this time we’re just focusing on this year, and blimey, it’s been a good one. So, without further ado, let’s get on with (drum roll please) the Top Ten Video Games of 2010!

10Plants Vs. Zombies PC, Mac, iOS, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS

Possibly the most addictive online game of the year, Popcap (the makers of Bejewelled) brought us possibly the best tower-defense game ever made. I’m aware that, by this point, people are actually getting a bit sick of Zombies popping up everywhere (Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption), but this game has sucked up so many hours of my life, and is so massively popular, that it got a console release (Something that hasn’t happened since Newgrounds hit Alien Hominid) and is thus eligible for today’s list.

In PvZ you defend your humble household against an ever growing onslaught of the undead. So far, so cliché. What really makes this game fun is what you use to defend yourself. Apparently the player’s character is some sort of mad scientist, because he possesses an army of genetically engineered killer plants which he uses to obliterate the zombie horde in an addictive mix of gory slaughter and landscape gardening.

PvZ has sucked up hundreds, nay, thousands of hours of people’s lives across the world, as they work to battle the undead menace. It adds a sense of fun and charm to the end of the world in a way the feels fresh and funny, with bright colours, crisp animation and gameplay which is simple to learn and difficult to master, PvZ has proven that sometimes you don’t have to have a massive budget and a huge development team to make a fantastic game.

9- Just Cause 2 PC, PS3, Xbox 360, OnLive

The original Just Cause was a so-so game. It divided a lot of gamers due to two primary points of contention- the first being that it had a solid idea and it was kinda fun, and the second being that it was an ugly, buggy mess of a game. Well, when Just Cause 2 came along, it completely silenced the critics of the original.

Gorgeous, gargantuan, grin-inducing over the top silliness was the name of the game this time around (Well, technically the name was Just Cause 2, but you get the point). JC2 was a huge improvement on its predecessor. The gameplay mechanics were refined and tightened up, allowing for use of the grappling hook not just as a means of travel but as a weapon that meant no enemy was safe from some seriously sadistic players. Attach one end to a bad guy, and the other to a tank full of gas, shoot the tank and watch and the hapless mook is dragged into the air, pinwheeling and jerking on the end of the line until he gets char broiled in a spectacular explosion.

JC2 had some sort of story, but to be honest it’s not that important. What is important it the mind-blowing vast setting, the pacific island of Panau, which I’m fairly sure (with the exception of Minecraft, which goes on forever) is the biggest open-world setting ever seen in any video game, and can’t be traversed from end to end without so much as a texture pop. JC2 is all about having fun, jumping off the highest buildings, seeing how far you can climb with your parachute, jumping out of jet fighters miles above the ground and falling until you find another plane to hijack, it was all about pure gaming id.

8- Sonic The Hedgehog 4 PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, iOS

Let’s be frank, Sonic games have been hit and miss for the last 16 years. The last Sonic game everyone would agree was good was Sonic & Knuckles, released waaaay back in 1994. Well, it took Sega a while, but they finally brought Sonic back to main consoles without the army of unnecessary side characters, gimmicks or just plain awful stories with Sonic 4, which I still think of as being subtitled ‘the apology’.

Sonic 4 (Episode 1, yeah it’s episodic, but I wont hold that against it) is a return to form that’s been a long time coming. There were a number of excellent games on handheld consoles (particularly the Sonic Advance games) which enjoyed moderate success, but Sonic remained in disgrace due to increasingly ill-conceived games on the big consoles. Sonic 4 is rendered in 3D, but plays as side-scrolling platformer, just like in the good old days. The only characters featured at all are Sonic himself and Doctor Eggman (I still think of him as Robotnik myself), and the game actually takes place directly after the events of Sonic & Knuckles, so it’s possible that episode 2 will include Tails and Episode 3 Knuckles, but for now the fans are getting what they want- Sonic and Sonic alone.

The gameplay is tight, the HD is gorgeous and for the first time in 16 years, players can play as Super-Sonic in regular gameplay after collecting all 7 chaos emeralds. This is the game Sonic fans have been waiting for, and just maybe, things can only get better.

7- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game PS3, Xbox 360

I promise this will be the last downloadable game on the list, because I know some people get touchy about whether they count as ‘proper’ games. For the record, I think games like Sonic and Scott Pilgrim count more as ‘proper’ games than certain first person shooters I could name which barely last 4 hours.

Scott Pilgrim is another game which is very old-school in its approach. It’s a side-scrolling beat-em-up, playing like the game River City Ransom on which the original comics themselves are loosely based, and is filled with the style and humour of the comics while also taking elements from the movie. The art direction was handled by Paul Robertson, who based the look on the comics, but refined them somewhat, while the soundtrack was provided by Chiptune Punk band Anamanaguchi, result in a glorious 8-bit/16-bit style game that harks back to early nineties while also managing to feel fresh and original.

With surprisingly deep gameplay, thousands of references, not just to the comics, but to gaming culture in general, co-op play for up to four players (though 2 players is the sweet-spot) the only problem with the game was that it lacked online co-op, but, oh well, it just encourages you to get some chums round for game-time, which doesn’t happen enough anymore if you ask me. Add on top of that the fact that Scott Pilgrim is, hands down, the best video game adaptions of anything, ever, makes it more than deserving of it’s place on this list.

6- Fable 3 PC, Xbox 360

The Fable series has been kind of hit and miss, with a great concept that never quite delivers on the both the hype generated by the walking ego that is Peter Molyneux and the expectations of the gamers themselves. That isn’t to say that the Fable games weren’t excellent action RPGs in their own right, good lord no, but that they generated a lot of backlash simply by being great, as opposed to the world-changing events people seem convinced they will be.

Fable 3 got pretty much everything right. It featured a living, breathing world that was genuinely affected by your gameplay style- locations would become ramshackle and grim if you over-taxed them, or turn into glittering metropolis’ if you poured your own wealth back into the community. It was backed up by possibly one of the most star-studded voice casts in video game history, including the talents of Stephen Fry, John Cleese, Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg, Richard Coyle, Mark Heap and Sean Pertwee.

The gameplay was refined and tightened from the previous installments, and the kingdom management and inventory systems were deep and rich in scope and detail, making for an engaging and (if you play nicely) colourful world to play in, with a vast amount of replay value to see how differently things can turn out depending on how you play.

Next up- we count down the top five video games of 2010 in Part 2!